What is Excessive Force?
This series is dedicated to dissecting and analyzing the excessive force demonstrated by Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in order to spread awareness and advocate for proper solutions. MPD's use of force is a violation of basic human rights, traumatizes communities, and destroys the integrity of the police department. Excessive force is described as acts that violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141 (“Section 14141”)1. The Fourth Amendment states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
This means every citizen has the right to feel and be physically and mentally safe wherever they are and this right shall not be infringed upon by anyone, especially by those who are sworn to protect and serve. According to the Code of the District of Columbia, each personnel authority of an agency of the District shall designate a person to administer the oath of office to each employee of that agency, including MPD. The oath shall be as follows:
“I, (employee’s name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the laws of the United States of America and of the District of Columbia, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”
Every officer swears to uphold the Constitution of the United States, that includes the 4th Amendment. However, MPD continues to violate this Amendment and their sworn oath by physically and emotionally abusing citizens. There are too many incidents of excessive force by the MPD spreading fear and distrust throughout communities, especially Black and Brown communities.